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Beyond Earthly Skies

An LBV Masquerading as a Cool Hypergiant

27 Jul 2014, 10:00 UTC
An LBV Masquerading as a Cool Hypergiant
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The search for supernovae (plural for supernova) has led to the discovery of a population of “supernova impostors”. These outbursts appear like supernovae, but exhibit much lower luminosities and ejecta velocities. A study by Mauerhan et al. (2014) presents observations of a supernova impostor identified as SN Hunt 248. The outburst associated with SN Hunt 248 was observed in May to June 2014 and it occurred in two stages. Between May 21and June 3, the source brightened slowly. On June 4, it began to brighten rapidly, reaching a peak on June 16. The source then plateaued for ~10 days at peak brightness before fading away.Analysis of the photometric and spectroscopic data indicates that SN Hunt 248 is consistent with an outburst from a massive star. Archival images from the Hubble Space Telescope between 1997 and 2005 reveal that the precursor star is a cool hypergiant with ~400,000 times the Sun’s luminosity and ~32 times the Sun’s mass. SN Hunt 248 is believed to be the first outburst observed from a cool hypergiant that is similar to the giant eruptions typical for luminous blue variable stars (LBVs).Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a hypergiant.Figure 2: Light curve of SN Hunt 248 compared ...

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